Growing up in homelessness is tough for any child, and thousands of these kids in Michigan also are navigating the streets without the care of parent or guardian. There are more than 4,800 “unaccompanied youth” in Michigan’s K-12 schools, who a new report shows are vulnerable to untreated mental-health issues, physical victimization and sexual exploitation. Parker James is with the Michigan League for Public Policy, which released the report.

“We want to make sure kids are economically secure, that they’re healthy, that they’re safe and that they have a supportive family and community. And all of those things are really hard to do if you don’t have a place to stay.”

44% of young people facing homelessness have reported having stayed in jail, prison or a juvenile detention center at some point.James encourages the expansion of the Michigan Youth Re-Entry Model, which is currently in use at the Department of Health and Human Services and in Oakland County.